Obituary Prof. Lise Thiry

Born in 1921, Lise Thiry ( passed away January 16th 2024, at the respectable age of 102! A time to remember her astonishing commitments, whether scientific, political or social, at a time when not everyone paid attention to women speaking. From 1947 she worked at the Institut Pasteur in Brussels, where she set up the Virology laboratory in 1952. Alongside many fundamental discoveries, her lab developed diagnostic tests for the detection of a number of viruses (e.g. scarlet fever, mumps, poliomyelitis, VRS, adenovirus, HIV). In 1985, she detected HIV particles in the milk of mothers from Rwanda, identifying a route of transmission and raising, for the first time, doubts about the universally accepted benefits of breastfeeding. In addition to her brilliant scientific career, in the early seventies, Lise started a political career at the socialist party. In 1985, she received the title of “Woman of the year” and became a member of the Senate. In 1990, she was part of the commission in charge of evaluating the impact of the new law legalizing abortion. She championed the rights of asylum seekers, and other excluded people. Besides her scientific publications, she wrote a series of books, including “Conversations avec des clandestins” (ISBN 978-2-87267-064-2, unfortunately not translated).
We present our condolences to her family. She keeps showing us the way to dedicating scientific research to the benefit of people and society.